01/14/2002 1:00AM

Australian mares reunited in allowance feature

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ARCADIA, Calif. - They come from a land Down Under, and they are here to pillage and plunder. First it was Kalatiara, and now Old Money has joined the ranks of top-class Australian mares who have been purchased by Robert and Janice McNair's Stonerside Stable and placed with trainer Ron McAnally.

McAnally's best experience with Australia before Kalatiara arriving in his barn was probably in his wine rack, where the trainer keeps vintages from the world over. Kalatiara's purchase, according to John Adger, the racing manager for the McNairs, was a calculated risk. Even though she had been racing in western Australia in Perth, whose circuit is to Melbourne and Sydney as Oklahoma is to New York, she came highly recommended from a bloodstock agent Adger trusted, and she "was not outrageously priced," Adger said.

Kalatiara hit like a guided missile, winning the Grade 3 Royal Heroine Stakes last summer at Hollywood Park in her first start in this country. And, naturally, the agents behind the Kalatiara sale - Bob Drummond in Australia, Denny Poultinghouse in the United States -- came right back at Adger with another prospect.

How tempting was this? The new prospect had defeated Kalatiara the last two times they had met. She had won her last three starts, twice when facing males, and had won races ranging from 7 1/2 furlongs to 1 1/2 miles. Faster than you could order a vegemite sandwich, Old Money was acquired by the McNairs, too.

Both Kalatiara and Old Money are entered in Wednesday's featured seventh race at Santa Anita, but their paths are unlikely to cross often in the future. "Kalatiara is probably best from 6 1/2 furlongs to a mile or 1 1/16 miles," Adger said. "Old Money runs longer distances. Wednesday's race is probably a little short for her."

There are plenty of other differences, too. When Kalatiara, a small horse, first arrived in the United States, McAnally told Adger, "She looks like a pony."

Old Money, by contrast, is "a grand-looking mare," Adger said. "When you see them in the walking ring, it'll look like Mutt and Jeff."

Adger liked what he saw when he viewed tapes of Old Money's races. In her last two starts there, she beat fields that numbered 18 horses each time. "She has a tremendous turn of foot," Adger said. "And she didn't run on any medication." Old Money is adding Lasix, standard operating procedure in this country.

McAnally has been eager to get Old Money to the races. He touted her as a horse to watch before Santa Anita's meeting, which began Dec. 26. Old Money has not raced in nearly 13 months, but she has been here since early last summer.

"It takes a while for them to acclimate," Adger said, "but she hasn't missed a beat."

McAnally entered Old Money in last Sunday's San Gorgonio Handicap, but scratched her when Wednesday's classified allowance race filled. Everything worked out perfectly for the McNairs and McAnally anyway, because they won the race with Tout Charmant.